“A Nation Of Assholes” Epilogue, Baseball Edition

To be fair, Donald Trump supporters and Trump himself are not the only ones who would transform the United States into a rude, boorish snakepit of jerks and narcissists.

There is Bryce Harper, for example, shown above in his minor league days blowing a kiss to a pitcher after a home run.  In a much discussed interview with ESPN, Harper decried the “unwritten rules” of Major League Baseball, which, among other things, disapprove of showboating, trash-talking, styling, and showing up  opposing players. Naturally, many sportswriters, whose IQ and ethical standards hover perilously close to those of the juvenile, none-too-swift Harper, are flocking to his side.

“It’s a tired sport because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do,” Harper said in the interview. “I’m not saying baseball is . . . boring . . . but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig — there’s so many guys now who are so much fun.”

Nobody’s against fun, of course, and there have been many players past and present whose unique flair was justly celebrated. Harper, not being a rhetoric master, probably mixed up the harmless with the toxic in his list unintentionally, but there’s no excuse for Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter Tom Boswell, other than the fact that intellectual dishonesty is his career calling card.

“From Willie Mays basket catches to Pete Rose sprinting to first on a walk to Dennis Eckersley fanning his finger-pistol at hitters he had struck out, baseball needs all the authentic extroverted individuality it can get, ” writes Boswell in his piece about Harper in the Washington Post. Ah yes, the device of the deceptive metaphor. Willie Mays used the basket catch because that’s the way he caught baseballs. Pete Rose ran to first on walks because he hustled.

The pistol routine Eckersley used (occasionally)? He was being a jerk. Continue reading

Hypnotist Ethics Amuck: I’ll Take the Chicken, Thanks

Hypnotist

[I’m on the road, and have a commentary on last night’s debate to file, but it’s hard doing it right in cabs and airports. This stupid tale, however, doesn’t take as much thought.]

Like the last post, this one begins in Minnesota. Something strange is going on up there. I didn’t write about this lawsuit  a year or so ago when it first came to my attention, but it is apparently still live. It is unbelievable, but also true.

PRIDE Institute Inc. of Eden Prairie is a non-profit agency that works with lesbian, gay and transgender clients, helping them deal with “mental health, substance abuse and sexual health” issues. As a special treat for its staff, the HR department hired a hypnotist as entertainment at a staff holiday party. The hypnotist, Freddie Justice, started his act  by telling the employees that he recognized it was a work event and that they didn’t have to worry about, for example, being hypnotized to “cluck like a chicken.”  His audience put at ease, Freddie entertained the group for nearly an hour and a half, hypnotizing volunteers and persuading them to do various silly things for the amusement of their colleagues.

Then the hypnotist asked the agency’s director of human resourcesor permission to conduct a final special demonstration.. With her permission, Justice selected three female volunteers, hypnotized them and told them they were going to experience an intense orgasm, like Meg Ryan’s fake version in “When Harry Met Sally.” All three did, spectacularly so, in front of their co-workers and the CEO of the agency. Continue reading

Abusing Fairness And Decency To “Get” Ted Cruz

Cruz college

I am in full sympathy with anyone who gets the creeps from Ted Cruz. The news media’s problem with Cruz, however, is also soaked with pure ideological bias. It doesn’t like his religiosity, nor his conservative fervor. If they turned one-fifth of the intensity of their anti-Cruz zeal on Hillary Clinton, maybe a few more of her more zombified followers  might finally feel some neurons firing.   (I don’t know if Trump shooting someone would dissuade his herd, but I have talked to Hillary supporters who would either refuse to believe it or claim it was set up by Republicans.)

Apparently Cruz’s kamikaze legislative tactics, mendacity and dirty tricks in his current campaign isn’t enough ammunition for those who want to derail his ambitions: now the news media is just looking for dirt, or manufacturing. Supposedly legitimate news organizations have scraped the bottom of the academic barrel to find lawyers who would argue that Cruz isn’t a natural born citizen, even though the same editors would have leapt out of their windows before seeking scholarly endorsement of Obama birther theories. Even non-political publications are doing it: Psychology Today just disgraced itself by publishing the ultimate pseudo-science junk piece from  a professor of neurology at George Washington University, Dr. Richard E. Cytowic, who explains in clinical terms why he, at least, finds Ted Cruz creepy. It is nothing but an ad hominem attack based on his opinion that Cruz is funny-looking, exactly as wrong as criticizing Obama’s ears, Hillary’s calves or Bernie’s wrinkles.

Ah, but Ted Cruz deserves this, you see, because he is conservative, Republican, genuinely rather than tactically religious—can’t have that—and one of the “Cuban guys.”

Piling on after the cheap shots taken at Cruz via Twitter by his jealous Hollywood jerk Princeton roommate, journalist Ellie Shechet decided to track down as many of Cruz’s college acquaintances as possible. allegedly to investigate a “rumor” of young Ted doing something disgusting, but really to see who would trash him. Here’s an example of her “investigative journalism”: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Fick Calls Loretta Lynch’s Bluff”

bible-quran

I think my favorite kinds of Ethics Alarms comment are those in which  commenters honestly, openly and sometimes painfully explore their conflicted feelings on  complicated ethics issues clouded by unresolved, and perhaps unresolvable, gray areas. This, by Ethics Alarms newcomer valentine0486, is such a comment.

The topic is the fair treatment of Muslims, in light of the formal tenets of their religion. Obviously, this is much on everyone’s mind now. An increasingly threatening form of terrorism is emanating from Islam. One end of the political and ideological spectrum holds that the entire religion and all of its adherents, including U.S. citizens, are inherently untrustworthy, and must be presumed to be dangerous. The other end, unfortunately the end resided in by the President (and Hillary Clinton, until the polls dictate otherwise), persists in denying that there is reason to regard Islam as any different from any other religion, and most absurdly, pretending that ISIS isn’t even Islamic. There must be a reasonable, safe, fair, American way between these two extremes, but what is it? This comment doesn’t solve the conundrum, but it opens the window a bit wider to air the inquiry.

Here is valentine0486’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: The Fick Calls Loretta Lynch’s Bluff: Continue reading

The 61st Rationalization, #52 Tessio’s Excuse (“It’s Just Business”)

Salvatore_Tessio

I realized, in reading the rationalizations being given by defenders of the decision of the New Jersey aunt of recent controversy to sue her young nephew for accidentally injuring her wrist when the boy was eight all boil down to a familiar rationalization repeated often in a classic film and its sequel. Somehow that rationalization missed inclusion on the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list. (There are 60 rationalizations now, with some labeled as sub-categories.) After today, that will no longer be the case. Presenting…

#52 Tessio’s Excuse, or “It’s Just Business”

Near the end of “The Godfather,” longtime Don Corleone loyalist Sal Tessio (played by the immortal Abe Vigoda) is caught attempting to ally with a rival family in an attempt to kill the new Don, Michael Corleone. As he is taken to the car for his final ride, Tessio turns to consiglieri Tom Hagen and says…

“Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him.”

Ah. It wasn’t personal, you see, this attempted assassination. That makes it all right.

Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Memories Pizza Stunt

Memories Pizza, you will recall, rushed to let everyone know that it supported Indiana’s short-lived “Let’s discriminate against gays” law, which Pope Francis would have approved of, apparently.  The poor, naive little establishment, which was about as likely to cater a gay wedding as a White House state dinner, became the immediate target of social justice warrior bullies, who nearly succeeded in running them out of business.

On September 25, 2015, comic Robin Trevino, a member of the gay theatrical ensemble GayCo, drove to Walkerton, Indiana, bought pizzas at  Memories Pizza, , and served Memories Pizza to all the guests at his September 26, 2015 same-sex wedding reception, then released a video to alert the world that Memories Pizza had unknowingly catered a gay wedding  after all.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Was it ethical to do this?

Continue reading

From The”On The Other Hand” Files: Before You Are Too Hard On Feminists Who Arrive At College Resenting Men, Read This…

Street harassment sign There is are good reasons why many women come to think of all men as potential predators.

Valerie Steighner authored a powerful essay titled “My 11-Year-Old Daughter Just Got Catcalled for the First Time and I Don’t Know How To Teach Her to Protect Herself From Predators.” Please read it. Here’s an excerpt:

She is 11 years old. She just graduated from elementary school and still plays with small plastic animals. And now along with vocab words, I have to teach her how to protect herself from disgusting men.

I told her that what that man did is called catcalling and catcalling is aggressive behavior and the best action is to ignore it. Usually, men that are willing to yell slurs about you and your body, if provoked, can be unpredictable and dangerous; it’s best to keep walking; don’t make eye contact and stand tall. 

I felt so defeated as the words came out of my mouth. Basically, there is nothing we can do, but pretend it’s not happening….Obviously, I was sexually active all through my twenties, but there is a difference from being what others want and finding what you need…The predator lives everywhere. He lives on our streets, in our grocery stores, on our billboards and in our malls. He constantly reminds us what our value is and where we belong. How do I teach her to catch him, see him and to protect herself from him?  How do I teach her that her body is not a source of shame but a source of power and strength? How do I teach her to hear the predator’s words to know what they mean and still stand tall and confident? How do I teach her to protect herself and still be open?

It sucks. It sucks that this has to happen to my daughter in 6th grade. It sucks that it’s only the beginning. It sucks that she has to learn about her body in the context of men noticing it. 

What also sucks is that the problem is a failure of ethics and civilization to move fast enough. Men are programmed to want sex and to procreate, and once upon a time in America the kind of conduct a disgusting 50-year old focused on the writer’s barely pubescent daughter was a cultural norm. In some places, it still is. Women had no other function but to find a man, have his children and make the home run smoothly, and not finding a man was, in some settings, a catastrophe. In the American West, a woman in her thirties who was uneducated and unmarried was very likely to end up a prostitute: it was the single largest occupation for unmarried women. When so many women are whores, men get in the habit of treating women as whores, and women who don’t want that fate will provide positive reinforcement to flirtations that are really harassment and disrespect. [You can find the many Ethics Alarms posts related to this topic here]

Old habits supported by hormones, traditions and bad role models—like, say, Jack Kennedy, Joe Biden and Donald Trump–will die hard or not die at all. In many ways, the culture still supports the ugly behavior Steighner’s daughter experienced. Many ways.  For example, in a current Geico commercial, the Gecko shows his trophy accompanied by that briefly popular song “Whoomp! There it is!,”  which is essentially street harassment in song form. You will also hear it in sporst stadiums. Continue reading

Gay Marriage Combat Flashback: “When A Boycott Is Unethical”

Prop 8

Prolific commenter Steve-O suggested that my previous post, Planet Ethics To Earth’s Gay Marriage Combatants: “You’re Mean, You’re Disgusting, And You’re Embarrassing The Human Race”, would have done more good if I had written it a few years ago. That’s hindsight bias, of course, but I did point out the unethical nature of similar tactics more than a few years ago, when gay marriage advocates announced a boycott against the state of Utah. ( I also, more than a decade ago, explained why this debate would be intense and emotional, and suggested the only chance, admittedly a faint and likely futile one, that the anti-gay marriage forces had to prevail.) Steve’s suggestion is also fanciful, in that Perez Hilton’s inane pronouncements on a Lindsay Lohan Instagram carry about 100,000 times more weight and influence than anything written here, and probably more than anything written about ethics issues anywhere, by anyone.

With that sad fact noted, the renewal of the problem of punitive and unfair boycotts as well as the escalation of brutal tactics in the gay marriage wars justifies a re-print of this essay from the Ethics Scoreboard from 2008, shortly after Proposition 8 was voted into law by Californians. As an aside, I note with some nostalgia the sober style in which Scoreboard posts were written. Therein lies the difference between an ethics website that posted essays composed over several days, and an ethics blog that attempts to keep up with multiple issues a day. The former is certainly more professional in tone; the latter is more personal and unfiltered, and, as a result, more read.

In the wake of California’s popular vote to over-ride its Supreme Court and establish marriage as restricted to heterosexual couples, gay rights advocates are urging an economic boycott of the state of …Utah.

Why Utah? Well, the Mormon Church, based in Salt Lake City, encouraged its members to work for passage of California’s Proposition 8. Thousands of Mormons worked as grass-roots volunteers and Mormon contributors gave tens of millions of dollars to the campaign. “At a fundamental level, the Utah Mormons crossed the line,” said gay rights activist John Aravosis, whose AmericaBlog.com is urging the boycott. “They just took marriage away from 20,000 couples and made their children bastards. You don’t do that and get away with it.” Continue reading

Planet Ethics To Earth’s Gay Marriage Combatants: “You’re Mean, You’re Disgusting, And You’re Embarrassing The Human Race”

earth-from-space

It is hard to mediate a dispute where both sides feel entitled to use scorched earth tactics that ensure that innocent people get hurt. The gay (or same-sex) marriage wars have quickly escalated to that point, and while it may have been predictable, it was not necessary.

Gay marriage advocates, who were winning and, it is now clear, will win, could have shown patience and compassion toward the unsuspecting Americans of faith who weren’t paying close attention to the epic cultural shift underway, and who are reacting like most human beings react when the basic traditions, assumptions, and beliefs that they grew up believing were good, fair and immutable suddenly move beneath their feet like unstable tectonic plates—with confusion, anger, fear, impulsive words and actions based on instinct and panic. The gay advocates couldn’t bring themselves to do it, though. They rationalized their aggressive strategy with the Goldwateresque “Extremism in the  defense of liberty is no vice” approach to social change. They insisted on demonizing opponents, without caring about their motives or their lack of understanding of the issues. Even passive acceptance wasn’t enough: the pro-gay marriage warriors had to purge contrary thoughts from the culture. Forget about tangible opposition: anyone who wasn’t thinking friendly thoughts about gays and their unions had to be destroyed. Use the fear of the tradition-bound against them. Crush them…beat them into submission.

It has been ugly, destructive, and wrong. American shouldn’t lose their jobs for signing a petition or voting for a referendum. States, and all their businesses and individual livelihoods, shouldn’t be boycotted because of misguided laws. This week, a family that just want to make and sell good pizza was drawn into a controversy it neither understood nor could be expected to, and was targeted for destruction after the owner made a comment rife with ignorance about, well, everything. Does it really matter that a pizza seller mistakenly thinks that it would be honorable and virtuous not to cater a hypothetical same-sex wedding reception? Does the family really have to be brought to its knees, made an example of, and ruined to teach anyone else what can happen to them if they don’t conform to the new, mandated belief system?

Who respects or likes people who act this way? We call them bullies. We call them cruel. We call them fanatics. ( This hateful CBS reporter tried to derail the GoFundMe effort to raise funds to rescue the pizza place.) Unless we are determined to understand their motives, we are very likely to hate them.

So the advocates of gay marriage really think it advances their cause, and it is a just cause, to make people hate and fear them.

What utter, utter folly.

Naturally, as in any war, the other side has responded in an equally brutal and ugly manner, just worse—dumber, to begin with. It’s Dresden for Coventry all over again.  Continue reading

Tales of the Indiana State Legislature: “Your Baby Is A Racist!”

Indiana State Rep. Vanessa Summers. (All right, not really, but I couldn't resist. Read the story and you'll get it.)

Indiana State Rep. Vanessa Summers. (All right, not really, but I couldn’t resist. Read the story and you’ll get it.)

Can it get worse than this? During the debate  in the Indiana House  over the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act,  state Rep. Vanessa Summers, (D-Indianapolis) rose to set a new record in outrageous race-baiting.

“I told [Republican colleague] Jud McMillin I love his son, but he’s scared of me because of my color.”

Responding to a rumble of protest from her assembled colleagues, Summers insisted, “It’s true.” When challenged on the assertion later. she defended her accusation, saying:

“He (the eighteen-month-old child) looked at me like I was a monster and turned around and cried. And I told him (McMillin) you need to introduce your child to some people that are dark-skinned so he will not be scared.”

There are so many take-aways from this episode that it’s difficult to know where to begin, or where to stop.

Continue reading